I had become a zombie. After Kyleigh’s initial diagnosis of cancer, I was tearful, sad, and full of fear, but this was expected. As time went on, though, I tried to push these emotions away and became numb. Resentment and anger became part of me later in Kyleigh’s medical journey. Years later, Kyleigh was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during the month of September, Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. This was an ironic joke. I once again became a shell of a person when trying to juggle all the parts of life.
The initial adjustment to the diagnosis of diabetes did take some work, but I realized that I had no joy in the new life I had been given. My days were filled with checking her blood sugar numbers on her glucose monitor app because I never let go of managing Kyleigh’s diabetes. I never fully trusted Kyleigh’s school and my days were filled with emailing, calling, and meeting her teachers. I was worried about her nutrition so I spent time planning meals and counting carbs. I was working full-time as a physician, but I was distracted with Kyleigh’s medical visits and trips to the pharmacy.
We shouldn’t live in a state of emptiness like I was experiencing. I wanted to once again feel intense joy along with deep sadness, but this would require change. I spent time reflecting on my usual days which included overseeing Kyleigh’s health and working. When I wasn’t doing these things, I would watch mindless television because “I needed a break”, but I know it was really to escape my life. This audit of my time was very revealing and were not in line with my priorities. My life was not balanced: I needed time for myself and time for my other children; I needed time for relationships with a significant other, family, and friends; I needed time for career goals.
It is amazing how organization and planning can change everything! Our time is valuable and our use of time will help us to create balance and achieve goals. We can’t add hours to the day, but we can make sure that we are maximizing our use of time. I have learned how to organize time on a calendar to help ensure my use of time is in line with my priorities. This organizational tool has been a valuable resource for achieving goals, eliminating unproductive “breaks”, and decreasing worry.
Being a parent of a child with a medical diagnosis does add tasks to my day, but time management allows me to manage these tasks and accomplish the other commitments I have made to myself and others. I transformed my chaotic, numb life into an organized, priority-focused, vibrant existence.
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Maureen Michele, MD
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